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The Big Read Features Citizen: An American Lyric

It’s always fun to share a good book with friends. Join Hartford Public Library as it celebrates Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen” in book groups, workshops exploring everyday macroaggressions, and poetry discussions.

Hartford Public Library’s “Citizen” programming is part of “The Book Read” initiative, sponsored by the National Education Association as a way of inspiring conversation and discovery through one book at a time.

Rankine’s subject is race, particularly the racism felt by black people in America. Her 2014 book has the subtitle, “An American Lyric.” The seven sections of the 160-page volume includes prose poems, images and essays. It is set in the present and includes an essay on tennis player Serena Williams, a tribute to a Florida teenage shot and killed in 2012, and a meditation on Hurricane Katrina.

Rankine, the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and moved to the Bronx at age 7. She studied with poet Louise Glück at Williams College and cites writers Adrienne Rich and Robert Hass as influences. She is a chancellor with the Academy of American Poets, author of five collections of poetry.

“Citizen” received the 2016 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt Book Prize for Poetry, the 2015 Forward Price for Poetry, and the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry.

In 2016 she was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Grant. In 2017 she started the Racial Imaginary Institute, which she describes as “a moving collaboration with other collectives, spaces, artists, and organizations towards art exhibitions, readings, dialogues, lectures, performances, and screenings that engage the subject of race.”

All branches of Hartford Public Library will participate in The Big Read. Each location is posting excerpts from “Citizen” encouraging customers to share their reactions, favorite quotes or experiences based on the book, on a large board. Branches will also have display books and reader resources and guides.

 “The Big Read” kickoff is March 20 and all branches will have posted excerpts from “Citizen” encouraging customers to share their reactions, favorite quotes or experiences on a large board. Branches will also have display books and reader. 

Other activities include a workshop on racism by the Center for Nonviolence; a book discussion on “Analyzing Visual Images & Stereotyping, Teens and Adult,”; a screening of MTV’s documentary “White People”; a workshop on “Microagressions in the Latino Community” run by Constanza Segovia; a screening of the film “Bomba—Dancing the Drum” introduced by Ana-Valentine-Jackson of Cultural Mosaica.

Claudia Rankine Gives Keynote Address on April 26

Join us Thursday, April 26, for an evening with Claudia Rankine, author of Hartford Public Library’s Big Read book for 2018, "Citizen: An American Lyric."

“Citizen” features many styles of writing, photographs, and original art.

In that spirit Hartford Public Library’s “The Big Read” is celebrating the book in different ways.

The night begins in the Center for Contemporary  Culture on the main floor of the Downtown Library, at 5:30 pm a "Citizen"-inspired performance by Tnmot Aztro Performance Art and Dance Installation  led by Arien Wilkerson, in collaboration with artists Ricky Silverspoon and David Borawksi. The presentation will feature community dancers who participated in four Saturday workshops at Tainted Studios in Hartford.

At 6 pm, three winners of the city-wide “Citizen” Youth Slam Poetry Contest will perform. Young poets were selected from YOUmedia Hartford workshops mentored by Brittana VersatilePoetiq Tatum,  Khaiim Kelly the RapOet (Self Suffice), Zulynette Morales, and Clementine Gant.

At 6:15 pm, Bridget Quinn-Carey, CEO of Hartford Public Library, will introduce Claudia Rankine, who will give her keynote address about her book, “Citizen: An American Lyric.”